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The Prisoner of Zenda (1937)

Approved | | Adventure, Drama, Romance | 3 September 1937 (USA)
An Englishman on a Ruritarian holiday must impersonate the king when the rightful monarch, a distant cousin, is drugged and kidnapped.

Directors:

John Cromwell, W.S. Van Dyke (uncredited)

Writers:

Anthony Hope (celebrated novel), John L. Balderston (screen play) | 3 more credits »
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Ronald Colman ... Major Rudolf Rassendyll / The Prisoner of Zenda
Madeleine Carroll ... Princess Flavia
C. Aubrey Smith ... Colonel Zapt
Raymond Massey ... Black Michael
Mary Astor ... Antoinette de Mauban
David Niven ... Fritz von Tarlenheim
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ... Rupert of Hentzau
Montagu Love ... Detchard
Philip Sleeman Philip Sleeman ... Albert von Lauengram
Eleanor Wesselhoeft Eleanor Wesselhoeft ... Frau Holf - Cook
Florence Roberts ... Duenna (scenes deleted)
Torben Meyer ... Max - Butler
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Arthur Byron ... (scenes deleted)
Francis Ford ... (scenes deleted)
Margaret Tallichet ... (scenes deleted)
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Storyline

This is a classic swashbuckler. Rudolph Rassendyll, Rudolf V's identical distant cousin, is asked to risk his life and impersonate the would-be king when his relative is kidnapped before his impending coronation. If Rudolf V isn't present at the ceremony, he will forfeit the crown to his older half-brother. Complications ensue when Princess Flavia, the king's cousin and betrothed, begins to notice a "personality change" in her fiancé. Written by Albert Sanchez Moreno <a.moreno@mindspring.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

The most thrilling swordfight ever filmed... See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

3 September 1937 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Der Gefangene von Zenda See more »

Filming Locations:

California, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,250,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Noiseless Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Producer David O. Selznick was unsatisfied with the action scenes in the film, particularly the fencing, so he brought in directors W.S. Van Dyke and George Cukor to reshoot them after principal photography was finished. See more »

Goofs

Princess Flavia gives Rassendyll a red rose in the garden. As it lies on a book a little while later, it is white. See more »

Quotes

Rupert of Hentzau: I see you want to let the drawbridge down. I just killed a man for that.
Rudolph Rassendyll: An unarmed man, of course.
Rupert of Hentzau: Of course!
See more »

Connections

Featured in The Making of a Legend: Gone with the Wind (1988) See more »

Soundtracks

Hail the Conquering Hero
(uncredited)
By George Frideric Handel
[Played at the "king's" entry into the cathedral]
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
Colman & Fairbanks Jr. Shine in Classic Adventure Film
10 April 2000 | by Ron OliverSee all my reviews

Traveling in a Middle European kingdom, an Englishman on a fishing vacation discovers to his astonishment that he is an identical look-alike for the country's king. When the dissipated monarch is unable to attend his own coronation, the Englishman is pressured to impersonate him temporarily. But when he falls in love with the new queen and the real king is kidnapped by an evil half-brother, the Englishman is swept into a world of intrigue & danger he scarcely knew existed. Can he rescue THE PRISONER OF ZENDA without losing his own life?

This is one of the great adventure films of the 1930's. Given lavish treatment by Selznick Studios, it is escapist cinema at its most enjoyable.

Silky-voiced Ronald Colman is perfectly cast as both the Englishman & the King. He was one of those rare, fortunate actors with great screen charisma - his every moment, every word, is interesting to the viewer. He almost meets his match, though, in Douglas Fairbanks Jr., here playing a charming & completely ruthless young villain. Their rapier fight stands out in a decade full of terrific swordplay.

The rest of the cast is equally impressive: lovely Madeleine Carroll, wicked Raymond Massey, frantic Mary Astor, stalwart David Niven and especially wonderful old Sir C. Aubrey Smith, a model of elderly devotion & courage.


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